Hour of Victory

August 6, 2007

Unpolished and overambitious, Hour of Victory must have been a tough game to get made. It’s one more World War II era first person shooter in a market that is already flooded with established franchises in the genre. In an attempt to separate Hour of Victory from the ever-growing collection of WWII FPS games, Midway chose to create three player characters and create levels with different paths available to each character that made use of each characters’ special skills and combat strengths. Sadly, it didn’t really work.

Your character choices are commando, ranger, and stealth soldier. Each character has a name, but it doesn’t matter. They all play pretty much the same, and the story progresses the same regardless of which character you pick. The game tries to create a sense that the three of you are the very best that the Allied forces have to offer. This would be a lot more believable if they ever worked as a team. If you choose to play the first mission as the commando then you’ll never see your ranger buddy helping you out by sniping the occasional German from the rooftops, and if you pick the ranger then the stealthy SAS soldier never alerts you to the fact that there’s a contingent of enemies in that building 500 feet ahead of you. The manual also tells you to make sure that you choose the right soldier for the job. This is a great idea. Make every mission completable for each soldier but have one in mind that will have a much easier time. That’s a good idea, but Midway didn’t do that. Prior to starting a mission all you can do is choose a character. There’s no description to tip you off that maybe the sniper-rifle wielding ranger is the way to go, and aside from occasionally taking a longer path there’s no reason not to play the entire game as the commando. He’s got extra health, and due to the inadequate aiming system he’s just as good at sniping as the ranger is.

There are a myriad of issues that just shouldn’t make it into a finished game. For example, doorways are extremely small. If you die while playing Hour of Victory, odds are high that you were stuck while trying to navigate a doorway. Did the play testers never attempt to enter a building? Maybe they got stuck in a doorway, assumed it was an invisible wall, decided that they couldn’t go in, and got bored when they couldn’t figure out how to complete the first mission. Similarly, if a game touts itself on an “each level can be completed by each character” gameplay type then don’t give me a sniper rifle, a handful of ammunition, and a never-ending supply of enemies. I’ll never kill them all (because the game just spawns more), and when I run out of ammunition my only option is to run for the machine gun at the top of the hill while being shot by enemies. True, the sniper can complete the mission, but it’s especially difficult due to the game’s practical design not matching up with its theoretical design.

There’s still hope though. FPS games – especially on the 360 – live beyond their single-player campaign in multiplayer. Not this time. There are a number of things wrong with Hour of Victory‘s multiplayer experience. There are alarmingly few people playing online. At the right time of day there’s a good chance you’ll be the only one. If you do manage to find somebody to play with, then the entire match you’ll be fighting lag and shoddy collision detection the entire time. Combine the sub-par aiming system with intelligently moving targets, and it’s plain to see that Hour of Victory shouldn’t be played. By anybody. Especially in multiplayer.

I wanted to like this game. The concept is solid, but poor execution just killed it. Please, somebody make an FPS with branching paths and multiple character types where character selection actually matters, and if I’m supposed to be a part of a team then please, please, please don’t make me play through the levels as a lone gunmen. Honestly, my commando could use some help, and I hear that there’s a ranger and an SAS operative chilling in a tent somewhere hoping I pick them for the next mission. There are better FPS games available on the 360, and you should be playing them instead.

Score: 1/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.